Objective: A study with human volunteers was conducted to ascertain whether a low intake of copper (Cu) would exacerbate the response to a deficient intake of magnesium (Mg).
Methods: Nineteen postmenopausal women, age 47 to 78 y, completed a metabolic unit study as designed. For 162 d, nine women were fed a diet containing 1.0 mg of Cu/2000 kcal and 10 women were fed 3.0 mg of Cu/2000 kcal. Diets contained 99 or 399 mg of Mg/2000 kcal for 81 d in a randomized, double-blind, crossover design. Differences were considered significant when statistical analysis yielded P </= 0.05.
Results: Magnesium balance was highly positive when the dietary magnesium was high but non-positive when dietary magnesium was low. Copper balance was more positive when dietary copper was high than when it was low. Plasma ionized magnesium was decreased by magnesium deprivation. Several variables measured indicated that low dietary copper affected the response to magnesium deprivation or vice-versa. Red blood cell magnesium was lower when dietary copper was low than when it was high. When dietary magnesium was low, serum copper was lower in the women fed marginal copper than in those fed luxuriant copper. When dietary magnesium was high, low dietary copper did not affect serum copper. Magnesium deprivation decreased red blood cell superoxide dismutase when dietary copper was luxuriant; when dietary copper was low, magnesium deprivation did not have much of an effect. Apolipoprotein A1 was lowest when dietary magnesium and copper were low. The order in which the magnesium restriction occurred affected the response of a number of variables to this treatment including concentrations of serum magnesium and total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Conclusions: The findings indicated that, in short-term magnesium depletion experiments, the response to depletion can be influenced by other dietary factors including copper intake and a high magnesium intake before depletion, and that 100 mg of Mg/d is inadequate for postmenopausal women.